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After Catholic Christmas Mass [26/12]- Xmas 1677

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The Catholic Chapel or Old Queen's Chapel

Just off St. James' Park stands a small Catholic church.


The Chapel was commissioned in 1623, for the Infanta of Spain, the intended wife of Charles I. It was completed in 1627, for Charles I's eventual Queen, Henrietta Maria of France, who used it as her private Roman Catholic chapel, bringing with her a bishop and priests from France as her chaplains.


During the Commonwealth, the Chapel was stripped of its treasures, and, in 1650, a Council of State directed that it should be used as a library. In 1662, however, it was refurnished and restored as a place of worship by Charles II, for his Queen, Catherine of Braganza. It is one of the very few Catholic churches in England. It is currently kept in service for the Duke of York and other Catholic lords at court.


It was some time after the congeration had left. A lone woman moved through the path in the middle of the pews, her clothing a rich velvet green, her figure and face hidden by a full golden veil. She made the sign of the cross before dipping into prayer, for all appearances being very devout.


A plan. She needed a plan on how to approach to his conversion and how to do so with the maximum effect. Words murmurred over her ilps as she concentrated. Not James' confessional priest, she quickly decided. The man, father Pedro, gave her the shivers and didn't particularly like her, come to think of it. There was always this damning gaze.


No, she needed somebody to teach her the basic instructions before she revealed herself. She couldn't say for sure why she was abandoning her family's strongly held faith. Perhaps it was her annoyance with family. Or the believe that deep down James wished to save her soul which was damn romantic. She needed James, strongly, in a way she coudn't explain to those who thought her independent of spirit. Being without him now made her feel weak. Long ago she had decided to throw her chances, and now it was time to reassure him that she was truly in his camp so that he may never abandon her.


Heather collected her thoughts before rising with grace, taking a deep breath and looking around.

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Mass had a way of calming the inner nerves of Diana, of grounding her in a sort of way. She’d been almost back at Gowran House when she’d noticed she’d forgotten it, the rosary that she’d bought with Lady Mirtel. There were few things she was sentimental about but her rosary was among those items on that short list. Christmas Mass had been fuller than normal, so typical of people… those who didn’t normally show for morning mass would come for Christmas. She’d been in the midst of saying her hellos and goodbyes when she’d walked off and left it laying on the pew where they’d sat.


Pulling her cloak, a little tighter, she walked with her head down and a purpose to her stride as she entered the familiar chapel with hardly a glance to who the other woman was praying at the front. If she’d had noticed who the other woman was, she might have scurried right out the door as quickly as a church mouse who’d just seen an alley cat patrolling the area might have.


She walked down the middle aisle glancing at the pews out of habit and looking to see if she saw the rosary had been moved. Turning to shuffle down the pew that she’d sat at she caught a glimpse of the beaded prayer necklace lying half under the pew in front of her. Letting out a relieved sigh she reached down and picked it up, pausing to look at it for a moment before straightening slowly this time taking more notice of the woman praying at the front.


Something was familiar about the woman, but a golden veil prevented her from identifying the woman. She eased onto the pew, clutching her beads as her hands and absently moving her fingers over them in a nervous habit. The woman in green collected herself and gracefully rose turning around in the process, no doubt finding Diana’s gaze on her before Diana politely dropped it to her beads. She couldn’t shake the feeling that the woman was somehow familiar to her… but not in a way she’d expect.

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